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Wine Components: Tannin

One question leads to another!

Question from Jim: Thanks for you reply. “Practicing” sounds like a lot of fun! You mentioned acid and tannin. What are they and why are they important?

Reply: Nice to hear back from you, Jim! Another good question. I’ll take one component at a time so this isn’t too long. Let’s start with tannin.

Winemakers love tannin because it’s an antioxidant – a natural preservative. It’s the thing that’s supposed to make red wine “heart smart”. It’s found in lots of fruits and vegetables, in tea and oak, among many other things.

The biggest source of tannin in wine is the grape skins. Other sources are the seeds, stems and oak (wine barrels contribute wood tannin if they’re relatively new). Red wines are almost always higher in tannin than white, because the winemaker must ferment the juice and skins together to get the purple color.  The juice of most wine grapes is clear, regardless of the skin color. Along with color, the skins contribute flavor, texture, heft and tannin. The extracts from the skins are responsible, to a great extent, for our perception that red wine is more like food than white wine. Continue reading

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